BY KENJI SATO
The NSW Greens have put forward a bill for ‘protest exclusion zones’ around abortion clinics.
If the bill passes through NSW parliament, it would become illegal for anti-abortion activists to protest outside of the clinics.
Greens MP and spokesperson for the Status of Women, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said that this change was long overdue.
“Medical privacy is a fundamental right. Women who are undergoing abortion services deserve that privacy,” she said.
But Mary Joseph from the Life, Marriage and Family Centre of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said that this bill would stifle freedom of speech.
“We think it’s very important that everybody has the right to peaceful protests on any issue. It’s a basic civil right,” she said.
“We don’t support violence or intimidation or anything like that. But we do support the right of people to pray or to offer help to those approaching an abortion clinic.”
Anti-abortion activist Caroline Lachlan has been seen protesting outside The Private Clinic, a Surry Hills abortion clinic.
Every week, she comes to the clinic wearing a sandwich board depicting images of aborted foetuses under the caption “this clinic dismembers babies”.
“I’d be prepared to go to jail rather than stop doing this, I’d still continue because I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m trying to save a human life,” she said.
But Paul Nattrass, the Private Clinic’s practice manager, said that anti-abortion protesters like Mrs Lachlan had caused his patients distress.
“She claims to be protesting, but I think what she’s really trying to do is intimidate patients and prevent them from coming to the clinic,” Dr Nattrass told City Hub.
“They’ve been protesting for long enough to know what to say to patients to upset them. If they see someone crying, they’ve achieved their goal. That’s their agenda.”
Dr Nattrass said he hoped the Greens’ bill would be successful, although he doubted it would.
“It’d be great if the bill could actually get through. I think it’s a good conversation to have in parliament,” he said.
“This is one law that could be implemented that would make a huge difference to the wellbeing of patients coming to a medical clinic. We fully support it, and we really hope it causes some further discussions into the future,” Dr Nattrass said.